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Making the most of Permitted Development Rights

Wed 19 July 2017

With farm profits being put under significant pressure, many landowners are turning to agricultural development rights with a view to generate capital returns from buildings that may otherwise be generating little or no return.  In other cases property owners are simply seeking to make the most of a more relaxed planning system.  

By now most rural property owners will have heard of General Permitted Development Order regulations for the conversion of agricultural buildings to dwellings which were first introduced in 2015 under ‘Class Q’. Since 2015 various pieces of guidance have been issued as well as legal decisions that have further clarified how Local Authorities should interpret the Rights.  

This means that we have been advising many property owners that it is worth revisiting cases where they were not successful in the past. Or, in the case of others, that it is worth appraising all their buildings for development potential to avoid missing out on what can be a significant uplift in value.  

One of the key hurdles that remains is that the building must be structurally suitable for conversion to be able to take advantage of the regulations. Stags has advised clients on a wide variety of buildings, from traditional stone barns to modern sheds. All types of building can qualify, provided that the structural criteria can be met and we are now advising most clients that they obtain a structural appraisal as this can pay dividends when it comes to improving the chances of success. 

Amongst the recent successes for Stags clients are; a Dutch barn and a steel portal framed cattle shed, both of which were given consent for substantial dwellings, a single storey block built barn to a four bedroom dwelling, and a 450 sq m steel portal frame shed to a ‘grand designs’ five bedroom dwelling with fabulous views towards Dartmoor. In all cases a significant uplift in value from the initial agricultural value. 

Because of the strict criteria that the rules apply, it is important to consider the building design carefully to avoid a refusal. Stags now have a breadth of experience of applications under these rules, and so we are well placed to ensure best chances of success.

Whilst it will apply less to rural landowners it is also worth remembering that there are presently also Permitted Development Rights (PD rights) which apply to convert offices, storage, distribution, and as of the 1st October, light industrial buildings to a residential use.  It may be that rural property owners who have diversified could be better off by moving more buildings over to a residential use.  The prescriptions that apply to these PD rights are similar, but not identical to agricultural buildings and Stags can help you navigate the various requirements.

In all cases the implications of any proposals should be considered in the round as part of your wider ‘property strategy’ and Stags can help signpost you to other professionals who can advise on any tax and legal implications, which are often the key areas. 

For more information or an informal chat please contact the Planning Services team on 01392 439046 or email

You might also be interested in:

Who can benefit from new Permitted Development Rights?

West Country property market 2017: what we know so far

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